Breaking: 3 Mercy Corps Execs Out, Mishandled Sex Probe

Three senior executives of Mercy Corps, including CEO Neal Keny-Guyer, are out after explosive allegations that they mishandled reports of sexual abuse by an organizational co-founder not once but at least twice.

Keny-Guyer resigned yesterday after a staff meeting at the organization’s Portland, Ore., headquarters which was webcast to staff worldwide. The allegations were made by Tania Culver Humphrey, daughter of Mercy Corps co-founder Ellsworth Culver, who said he sexually abused her through most of her childhood.

Also out are Corporate Secretary and Senior Legal Counsel Barnes Ellis and long-time board member Robert Newell.

“The Mercy Corps Board has accepted the resignation of CEO, Neal Keny-Guyer, who has immediately relinquished his responsibilities. We are launching a search for a new Chief Executive Officer and will announce interim leadership soon,” Gisel Kordestani, board co-chair, said via a statement.

“The Mercy Corps Board today heard global Mercy Corps employees’ demands for accountability and responsibility after it was revealed this week that the daughter of co-founder Ellsworth Culver brought details of sexual abuse perpetrated by him to the attention of Mercy Corps in the early 1990s and again in 2018,” the statement continued.

The board has initiated an independent, external review to examine the organization’s handling of Humphrey’s report to the Mercy Corps integrity hotline in 2018. That review will also examine Mercy Corps’ safeguarding policies and leadership accountability, according to the statement.

None of the executives who resigned are accused of sexual abuse, rather the mishandling of the reports both during the 1990s and late last year.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reported this week that Culver raped and sodomized Tania Culver Humphrey starting in preschool and continuing to her high school years. Humphrey told three Mercy Corps leaders in 1992, but they determined her account and medical records weren’t enough to remove Culver, according to the news agency. He remained in a senior vice president’s role.

Founded in 1981, Mercy Corps reported $308 million in total revenue for the year ending June 2018, including $131 million in contributions and $175 million in government grants. It ranked No. 64 in the NPT 100, a study of the largest nonprofits in the nation that derive at least 10 percent of revenue from public support.

Keny-Guyer was among The NonProfit Times’ Power & Influence Top 50 this year and also recognized in 2018 and 2015. He earned total compensation of $510,170 in 2018, including base compensation of $381,666, according to the organization’s Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Form 990. Ellis earned compensation of $121,599. The organization provides humanitarian assistance after disasters. Last year, it reached 11 million people facing conflict, including 3.8 million refugees from communities in 24 countries.

Mercy Corps Director of Communications Christy Delafield told The NonProfit Times that the organization is not providing organizational executives for comment.

In an Oct. 14 announcement, Mercy Corps appointed Beth deHamel as interim CEO. She joined Mercy Corps in 2012 as chief financial officer and also serves on the boards of Mercy Corps Ventures, the social impact investing arm, the employee 403(b) retirement program, and two microfinance banks established in Bosnia and Kosovo. She also provides ongoing advice and counsel for a microinsurance company founded by Mercy Corps.

Previously, deHamel was CFO of TriMet, the Portland-Area public transit agency. She was an investment banker focused on financing large U.S. infrastructure projects like water, power and transportation. She holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and public policy from Duke University, and a master’s degree in public policy from Harvard Kennedy School.

This story is developing. Check back for updates.